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Morgenthau Lectures (1981–2006)

Named for famed international relations scholar Hans Morgenthau, the annual Morgenthau Memorial Lecture series showcased the most distinguished thinkers on ethics and international affairs.

Most of these booklets are available for sale, or are downloadable free of charge.

Ethical Considerations: Law, Foreign Policy, and the War on Terror | 11/02/2006 Alberto J. Mora, Dan Rather Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora fought to stop policies that authorized cruelty toward terror suspects. "Cruelty harms our nation's legal, foreign policy, and national security interests," says Mora. "I can't put it any plainer than that."

The $100 Laptop: The Next Two Billion People to Go Digital | 11/03/2005 Nicholas Negroponte Negroponte's latest venture, One Laptop per Child, is a non-profit organization that manufactures and distributes inexpensive laptops to children worldwide.

The Changing Role of Humanitarianism: A Study Guide to the Work of Bernard Kouchner | 09/22/2004 Bernard Kouchner A study guide to the work of Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Medécins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, including an excerpt from his book, Les Guerriers de la Paix [The Warriors of Peace], published for the first time in English.

Waging Modern War | 05/28/2003 Wesley K. Clark Describing the experience of leading NATO to victory in Kosovo, General Wesley K. Clark (ret.) notes that, when he returned to the United States the following summer, "many people didn't even know there had been a fight."

The Mystery of Capital | 05/08/2002 Hernando de Soto Economist De Soto's simple but revolutionary concept of the importance of property rights and rule of law is transforming developing countries around the world. He shows that by creating clear, enforceable, universally recognized property laws, they stand to realize $10 trillion in "dead capital."

Universalism and Jewish Values | 05/15/2001 Michael Walzer Though they lacked any state or territory of their own, Jews nevertheless created a distinctive political philosophy, one that deserves systematic scholarly attention.

Kosovo: An Assessment in the Context of International Law | 05/12/2000 Richard Goldstone South African jurist Richard J. Goldstone, co-chairman of the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo, traces the troubled history of the Albanian province of Kosovo after it was incorporated into the new Yugoslavia in 1945.

National Interest in the Information Age | 05/12/1999 Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Nye provides several reasons why the information age is likely to enhance rather than diminish American power.

Directions in U.S. Foreign Policy: Interests and Ideals | 05/12/1998 Anthony Lake On the one hand, more people (in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere) are living in democracies, thanks in large part to globalization. On the other, there has been an erosion of national sovereignty, with governments ceding power to international forces.

Human Rights and Asian Values | 05/25/1997 Amartya Sen Human rights are neither a uniquely Western phenomenon nor a hindrance to economic development, the charges usually leveled against those who seek to implement human rights in Asia. In this valuable 1997 lecture, Amartya Sen points to intellectual strands within Asian thought that value human rights.

The Future of the United States as a Great Power | 05/26/1996 William Pfaff William Pfaff points to the danger the U.S. will face if it continues to hark back to a mythical, isolationist past. He urges American leaders to take up the moral and political responsibility demanded of a great power, which includes encouraging the nation's citizens to remain informed about the wider world.

The New Dimensions of Human Rights | 05/26/1995 Zbigniew Brzezinski "The interface between ethics and science will hence be the new frontier of politics—the third new dimension of human rights," warns Zbigniew Brzezinski in this 1995 lecture.  Increasingly, politics is likely to be dominated by ethical dilemmas stimulated by science's potential for reshaping the very nature of the human being.

Intervention: From Theories to Cases | 05/26/1994 J. Bryan Hehir J. Bryan Hehir argues that the legal norm against intervention in other nations' affairs is eroded once it becomes impossible to ignore the moral imperatives to rescue those in need and/or end violations of human rights. That said, he favors a prudent approach toward intervention, with non-intervention remaining the norm. This lecture was also published in Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 9 (1995).

Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points after 75 Years | 05/12/1992 Gaddis Smith Although much of Wilson's thinking is still relevant, he in no way anticipated "such horrors as the Holocaust, or the famine in Somalia, or the swirl of hatreds within countries and the refugees stumbling across borders"; nor did he have any "inkling of global issues such as climate change, overpopulation, and the poisoning of our environment."

Speaking Truth to Power: The Quest for Equality in Freedom | 05/12/1991 Robert J. Myers Former Council president Robert J. Myers discusses the legacy of Hans J. Morgenthau: his realist doctrine and its influence on American foreign policy; some enduring dilemmas of American democracy; and the the mass destruction of humanity through nuclear weapons.

Is the Cold War Over? | 05/12/1989 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Arthur Schlesinger analyzes the failure of the Soviet experiment, something no historian had predicted. "The internal contradictions of communism proved far more destructive than those internal contradictions that Marx predicted would infallibly overthrow capitalism."

The Nuclear Dilemma: The Greatest Moral Problem of All Time | 05/12/1988 Theodore J. Hesburgh "We all know that we are the first generation of humans since Genesis that can totally destroy the human species and make our beautiful planet uninhabitable." In this 1998 talk which is sadly still all too relevant, Hesburgh laments the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the USSR, and proposes practical steps towards reducing the nuclear arsenal.

The Political Ethics of International Relations | 05/22/1987 Stanley Hoffmann (1928-2015) Leading international relations theorist Stanley Hoffmann argues that the greatest danger to ethical thinking in international affairs is "disembodied idealism," i.e., posing ethical solutions to political problems without first coming to grips with states and their interests. Like Hans Morgenthau, he links ethics with political realism.

Is Democratic Theory for Export? | 05/26/1986 Jacques Barzun Barzun argues that democracy is a historical development and mode of life peculiar to the political context in which it developed. Attempts to export it (as sought by both the Reagan and Clinton administrations) will surely fail. Again and again, events have proved him right.

Words and Deeds in Foreign Policy | 05/12/1985 Kenneth W. Thompson Moral principles become disconnected from political actions in three ways: contextualizing ethics for time and place as well as man, politics, and the nation-state; subjugating morals in the name of a utopian end; and viewing power alone as a moral principle.

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